Glasgow Zoo Park
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Extracts from Annual Reports 1947-1972

  • Sum paid to buy Calderpark
  • Admission Fees increase, 1950
  • Barless enclosures begun, 1952
  • Car usage increase by visitors, 1963
  • Employment training for young unemployed initiative, 1972
  • Enclosure replacement, 1958
  • Hotel planned at main entrance, 1965
  • Path laying within zoo, 1969
  • Photographic Competition, 1966
  • Seasonal attendance effects, 1962
  • Visitor numbers from 1947-1953
  • Effects of extreme cold weather, 1961


  • Conservation role of zoos flagged, 1963
  • Conservation - in the hands of urbanised population, 1969/70


  • Outbreak of Anthrax, 1951
  • Viral infection kills cats, 1968


  • Education funding support, 1951
  • Education grants, 1952
  • Education Officer appointed, 1970

    Zoo Animals

  • Penguins, 1947
  • Freda , the elephant at work and play, 1948
  • Death of Freda , the elephant, 1954
  • Sari , the elephant arrives, 1955
  • Death of Sari , 1967
  • Lemurs acquired from seamen, 1969
  • Rikki , the lion, a toy-boy trailblazer, 1964
  • Polar Bear, Snow White donated, 1949
  • Death of Snow White
  • Six Polar Bears arrive, 1962
  • Reptile collection from Indianapolis Zoo, 1971
  • Tiger breeding success, 1955
  • Sam , the Malayan tiger's behaviour with cubs, 1959
  • Death of Sam , the tiger, 1960
  • Zebra breeding success 1956
  • 1961

    In 1938 we heard that about 100 acres of ground were for sale at Calderpark Estate, at a cost of 2,000. We offered 1,800 and after negotiation the sum of 1,850 was agreed on. The ground was duly acquired through a loan from a bank.

    Work commenced in May 1946. It was a modest effort in those days. Money and materials were both very scarce. Our cages and dens were built from scrap war material and anything suitable that was available in a ship breaking yard. The offices and aviaries were created from old wood acquired from an anti-aircraft gun site at Kilmacolm. Surely, no non-commercial Zoological Society has had to scrape and scrounge as we did?


    We must make special mention of our experience with penguins. These most interesting birds are recognised to be one of the most difficult exhibits to keep in any zoo. When they arrived there was the problem of inducing them to feed, and our keepers had many cuts on their hands before the birds would accept their fish without any physical persuasion. In due course this was accomplished. In the first three months we lost three of our original eight king penguins. Compared with other zoos which had received penguins with the same consignment, our proportion of losses was very far below theirs. Post-mortem examination showed that the cause of the trouble was mycosis, a disease which was fatal in every case, despite expert veterinary treatment. Our penguin collection was recently increased by two more king penguins and four macaroni penguins. Although it may be premature to mention the success of our achievements so for in this penguin connection, our results have given us cause for great satisfaction. Perhaps it is beginner's luck. We will see.



    , the young elephant, was a great favourite with the children from the beginning. On good days during the summer she carried children, and behaved exceptionally well for a newly imported elephant.


    The female polar bear, Snow White , was presented to us by Copenhagen Zoo, through the Director, Mr Axel Reventlow. She is one of the very few polar bears to be born and reared in captivity, and is about two years of age. The Society are, naturally, deeply appreciative of this handsome gesture.


    Owing to the rising cost of food and material, and general running expenses, the Council have been compelled to increase the charge for adults from 1s. to 1s 6d. Children will still be admitted for a sixpence.


    Through the good offices of Councillor Robert Gray, a Glasgow Corporation representative on our Council, we were granted the sum of 1,000 from the Lord Provost's Festival of Britain Fund . In return for this every school child in Glasgow, in organised school parties, will have the opportunity of visiting Calderpark up to the end of 1952. This arrangement gives your Council a great deal of satisfaction as it goes a long way towards establishing the educational importance of the Gardens.

    We suffered a very severe blow in February when we were confronted with an outbreak of anthrax, a most serious disease among animals. Within a week we lost fourteen animals - a young lion, a coatimundi, a caracal, a dingo, and ten raccoons. In justice to the staff at the Gardens it should be stated that, so far as they were concerned, the cause was outwith their control.


    The past year has firmly established the Gardens as a recognised centre of education for children. The Corporation of Glasgow and the County Council of the County of Lanark have fully appreciated the educational importance of Calderpark. Both have made an educational grant which have made all schools under their authority associate members. As a result of these, we can look forward in the coming year to record visits from school children in conducted parties.

    Work is well advanced on the first barless enclosure. Instead of bars, a deep moat will prevent the animals from escaping. We hope to have this novel feature open by April and the probable occupants will be hyaenas.


    Since we opened in July 1947, about 1,600,000 people have visited the Gardens. The Coronation celebrations were unfortunately of no help. Because of local authority Coronation grants very many school parties did not pay their annual visit to Calderpark being able to go further afield.



    Two deaths during the past year among our collection were that of the elephant, Freda , and the grand old lion, Singh . The loss of Freda in the spring was a very serious one as it left us without an elephant, and such a big attraction is an important feature of any zoo. It should be added, however, that Freda's general health had caused concern for a long time and had it not been for the good care and skilled veterinary attention she had been receiving, she would not have lived as long as she did. She developed a serious gastric complaint and died after a short illness.


    The most important purchase made in 1955 was a young elephant. Her name is Sari , and she is now about six years of age. She cost 1,000. Sari has settled down nicely and we hope that, when old enough, she will give rides to children. She has already become a great favourite with visitors.

    Breeding results have been exceptionally successful with tigers. We had two litters, one of three, the other of two and fortunately both mothers reared their cubs. It is perhaps not generally known that tiger cubs are difficult to rear in captivity, and, in most cases, a foster dog is used. So far as we are aware no other zoo in the world had such good fortune with tigers in 1955.


    A Grant's zebra colt was born in the spring, and is making excellent progress. So far as we are aware it is the first to be born in Scotland. Through the good offices of Professor Dr H. Hediger, Director of Zurich Zoo, we have received a very handsome young male leopard.


    Our collection has increased during the year by exotic birds, American tree fox, raccoon dog, raccoons, collared peccary, agouti and skunk.


    We continued with the important work of replacing a number of the fences, shelters and paddocks which had been erected in 1946-47, and had become unsightly or dangerous. A comprehensive programme of work of a similar nature will be carried out in 1959.


    We were very successful in the breeding of tiger and lion cubs. Six tiger cubs and five lion cubs were born. It is interesting to record that with one litter of tiger cubs the male tiger was allowed to remain with the tigress and her three cubs. He is the Malayan tiger, Sam , and his conduct with the cubs was excellent. We understand that this is one of the few occasions that this has been tried successfully. The usual procedure is to remove the tiger before the cubs are born.


    We suffered heavy losses among our most important exhibits. Old favourites Sam (tiger), Snow White (Polar bear), and Rory (lion) died.


    The extremely cold winter has made the task of managing the animals extremely difficult. Feeding, cleaning and supplying water in temperatures often well below freezing point present major problems. Our staff responded well to the challenge.


    We have now a most impressive show of Polar bears. There are six young ones in the new den and we are particularly grateful to Copenhagen Zoo for supplying us with four of these most interesting animals. The other two were reared by an Eskimo in Greenland. He had been attacked by the mother and had to shoot her in self defence.

    In common with most zoological gardens, the off season , which may extend to six months of the year, is a heavy financial strain. Attendances during this period are negligible and therefore we depend a great deal on grants and members' subscriptions to meet our expenses. It can therefore be readily appreciated that a bad summer is a most serious matters for a non-commercial zoological garden.

    We have had to face the rising expenditure trends in wages, animals, animal feeding, and building material. Obviously, this can only be met by substantially increased attendances. And attendances can be increased only by good weather, good transport and above all a good zoo.


    There has been an astonishing increase in private car parties; this has meant that the problem of increasing the size of our car park is an urgent one. During 1963 it was considerably extended; yet, on several occasions it was quite inadequate and large numbers of private cars had to find parking space elsewhere.

    Zoos have a significant contribution to make in the breeding of animals threatened with extinction. We have all been made aware of the urgency of saving wild animals from extinction, and a number of the world zoos have taken an impressive part in this very worthy object. We look forward to the day when Glasgow and the West of Scotland can be numbered among those which play an effective part in assuring the survival of wild animals which are being so swiftly exterminated in their natural haunts.


    Rikki the celebrated lion is worth special mention. It may be recalled that he was presented to us by Mr James Walton in May 1963; the five years old lion had been Mr Walton's pet. Morose and dangerous when he arrived at Calderpark, Rikki would not eat. After two weeks of patient attention from our staff, we finally got him to take food, although he remained very unhappy and aggressive. After a short period we introduced him to a lioness, about four years of age, but he ignored her. We then put him with a twelve years old lioness and, in due course, a male cub was born.


    It is with the greatest satisfaction that we announce that negotiations are, at the moment, actively proceeding with a view to providing a first-class licensed HOTEL near the main gate. The project is awaiting the necessary Authority's permission. With these forthcoming, the plans already drawn up will be put in hand without delay, and the hotel should open its doors in 1967. This can only result in tremendous advantage to Calderpark Zoo and Gardens in the years ahead. [ An hotel finally opened in 1995! ]


    A most successful photographic competition was again organised by Messrs Ilford. Special facilities were granted by us to the competitors, all members of photographic societies; prizes were awarded by Ilford and by the Zoo Council.


    Undoubtedly the most severe loss of the year was that of our elephant, Sari , who died in the early summer at the age of 14. The immediate reaction was to replace her as quickly as possible, but it was eventually decided that the acquisition of another elephant should be delayed until funds became available to construct a much larger house and more spacious enclosure. Sari's old house is therefore now being converted into a Nocturnal House.


    As well as the amur cats, other acquisitions for the Cat House during the year included a Scottish wild cat, a pair of Malayan golden cats, a pair of leopard cats and a pair of binturongs. This gradual build-up of potential breeding stock, all young adults, received a sad blow towards the end of the year with a series of sudden deaths due, it is thought, to a virus infection, which resulted in the loss of the Scottish wild cat and one each of the pair of amur cats, golden cats and leopard cats.


    One of the commonest complaints by visitors over the last two years has been the dust which rises from the ash paths, and we are therefore particularly grateful to the Gardens Department of the Ninth District Council of Lanarkshire who have this winter commenced laying tarmac on the paths in the newly developed areas of the grounds.

    Peat and Charlie , a very attractive pair of ring-tailed lemurs, were acquired separately within 48 yours of each other and from separate ports in Madagascar, by the captain and one of the crew of the same ship. Both were babies, too young to be independent, which were being played with and teased at the dockside and which were acquired for the princely sum of a couple of old shirts! It is a considerable tribute to Captain Palethorpe-May and Mr Thornton that by the time the lemurs arrived in Britain they were exceedingly healthy, half-grown animals. They have settled in very well at Calderpark, endearing themselves to staff and visitors alike, and we have high hopes that they will in due course breed successfully.

    1969 and 1970

    Conservation in urbanised countries like the United States is no longer only dependent on those who live in wild areas. More than 70 per cent of our population now dwells in cities and it is here that attitudes, and their resultant votes, will determine the future of wildlife and wild lands. Ironically, the decisions will be made by people almost totally unfamiliar with living wild creatures, except those animals seen at the zoo. To gain the interest - and attention - of this great majority of inexperienced city-dwellers has become a basic responsibility of modern zoo displays.' William G. Conway, General Director, New York Zoological Society


    By far the most important single item of progress in the educational field has been the agreement of Lanarkshire County Council Education Committee to second a schoolteacher to Calderpark to fill the post of Education Officer. Although a severely neglected aspect of British zoological gardens, the great success of established educational systems in foreign zoos, combined with the number of requests which we already receive for everything from conducted tours to material for projects in nursery schools, makes us confident that there will be a very considerable demand for the services of this new department.


    An interesting collection of North American reptiles was received from the Indianapolis Zoo, including various species of terrapins, box turtles and snakes, some of which are still rather too small to place on show.


    The Zoo has been participating in a scheme known as Community Industry. This is organised by the Department of Employment and the National Association of Youth Clubs for the alleviation of youth unemployment. Calderpark, as a major amenity of Glasgow, has benefited considerably. Up to twenty 16-18 year olds and their supervisors have been working at the Zoo on a wide variety of tasks to the direction of Zoo staff. The scheme continues to be of great value both to the boys and girls concerned and to the Zoo. We are very pleased that the Government has recently agreed to continue the scheme for an indefinite period.